Florida Panthers: James Reimer is stepping up to the plate

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 23: Goaltender James Reimer
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 23: Goaltender James Reimer /

Ever since Roberto Luongo went down with injury, James Reimer has stepped into the starting role. How has he fared for the Florida Panthers?

When the Florida Panthers‘ starting goalie, Roberto Luongo, went down with injury, there was some skepticism of how James Reimer would play now that he would take over the starting goaltending duties.

Many worried how Reimer would respond to his new role since he had struggled early on in the year when he was called upon in situations to start. Since Luongo had played at an elite level, there was also a concern that the Panthers’ record would suffer due to not having Luongo’s presences.

As soon as Luongo went down with injury, rumors started to swirl around that the Panthers would possibly acquire a goaltender. It seemed as if not only did the fans not trust Reimer’s goaltending skills, but the front office of the Panthers did not trust him either.

While it seemed like the Cats would add someone to their team, they instead opted to just use Harri Sateri as the backup and roll with Reimer full-time.

At first, Reimer did nothing to put the fan base and organization at ease with his goaltending. In his first seven games as the newly appointed starting goalie, Reimer struggled immensely as he and the Panthers went 2-3-2 and fell to an ugly four games under .500.

In the first three games, Reimer allowed 12 goals and seemed to have no confidence in his game at all. Fortunately for the Panthers, Reimer got better over his next four and only allowed a total of 9 goals over four games.

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Things were certainly starting to look better for Reimer, although, the Panthers had only won one out of those last four games over the seven game stretch.

After those first seven games into the “Reimer era,” the entire team looked like a disaster. They had no confidence, no momentum, and everything seemed like it was headed downhill. Then, James Reimer stepped up to the plate and delivered in what might be one of the most important stretches of the season.

Florida had just suffered three straight losses and were headed into the 3rd period down by a goal to the NHL’s worst team: the Arizona Coyotes. The Panthers came back to win that game in the third period, but it was Reimer’s play that led the comeback.

James quietly made 39 saves and only allowed two goals after the Panthers had been completely dominated in the first-two periods.

Over the next four games, Reimer would continue his stellar play as he only allowed 4 goals and posted two shutouts. The result of his incredible goaltending? A five-game winning streak that propelled the Panthers back to .500, and back into the race for a playoff spot.

Unfortunately, the winning streak was snapped in Minnesota on Tuesday night, but because of Reimer’s goaltending over the previous five games, the Cats have played a much better brand of hockey.

Next: Harri Sateri could possibly become a positive contributing factor

James Reimer struggled in his first seven games as the new starter for the Panthers, but since then, Reimer has not only turned around his season, but also the Panthers season too.